Jola Cloud Solutions' Blog

Jola’s CEO raises over £12K for Derbyshire Children’s Charities

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 22-May-2024 13:17:09

Adrian Sunderland, Jola’s CEO, took part in a 100-mile charity bike ride from Derby to Skegness on Saturday 18th May 2024. He raised over £12,000 for the Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre and Derby Kids’ Camp. To find out more about the charities, please click here.

Adrian Sunderland commented, “As many of you know, this is no real hardship because I love riding my bike anyway and it’s for a great cause. Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre and Derby Kids Camp provide some of the most disadvantaged and deserving children with opportunities and experiences they would otherwise be unable to access.”

To donate to this wonderful cause, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/page/sunders-sea-and-skeg

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Topics: Business

Building an ESG Strategy

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 15-May-2024 12:40:07

How are channel companies approaching their environmental, social and corporate governance strategies?

We try to reduce our carbon footprint by preferring greener suppliers, promoting recycling, offering cycle-to-work schemes and using Teams. Apart from helping the planet, it saves money, and we have partners that need us to have green credentials. Social governance is a priority at Jola, as we provide competitive packages and an engaging culture for employees to thrive. Channel companies regularly support local and national causes running for charity, playing in football and boxing matches, hosting coffee mornings and supporting local food banks. It is a great way to engage employees, give back to the local community and encourage physical and mental well-being. Corporate governance around equal pay and diversity has been under the spotlight for the last few years in the channel and we display our diversity awards with pride.

How important are ESG strategies to purchasing decisions? 

As you would expect unique solutions, reliability, security and pricing all factor into decision-making, however, the larger corporates are asking partners for ESG policies more and more.

What support is available from vendors in the channel?

Sharing best practices is a good place to start as well as making policies available via web pages and partner portals.

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Topics: Business

Key Performance Indicators

Posted by Rob Stevens on 22-Jan-2024 14:41:44

One of our most important values is ‘customer first’. This is because our customers all have their own customers and when things go wrong, or their end user needs information, speed is vital.

For the first time, we are publishing some of our KPIs and whilst we think these numbers are world-class, we know we can always improve.

Financial Year

22/23

21/22

20/21

19/20

18/19

*Percentage of all calls received answered within 20 seconds

96%

97%

93%

99%

98%

*Percentage of all tickets responded to within 1 working day

97%

97%

95%

89%

98%

*Percentage of all tickets resolved within 3 working days

90%

83%

85%

85%

91%

*Professional contact centres use this methodology to measure success. You may see organisations publish average response times and this is often either down to weak management or a deliberate attempt to hide poor performance.

To explain by example. Imagine a 9-5 contact centre receiving 100 calls an hour on average. From 9-12 and 2-5 the average response time is 10 seconds but over the lunch period, inadequate cover means the average is 300 seconds. The daily average wait time is less than a minute and a half but this masks the true overall customer experience. Furthermore, if managers believe in this flawed system, customer-affecting issues are harder to identify, diagnose and fix.

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Topics: Business

Recruitment

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 22-Nov-2023 13:36:54

When advertising for new recruits, we use local apprenticeship specialists and target university students. We also advertise locally using a refer-a-friend scheme. LinkedIn and the website are a given, but we have more success targeting people we know, or local people looking for a chance to learn something new.

A lot of experienced candidates expect remote working and often ask how many days they need to be in the office. However, we have also found that many new recruits want to be in the office with experienced mentors to help them develop and succeed in their roles. We have found running our business with a mix of remote working and in-office hot desking very successful. It is important to monitor and measure the right key performance indicators so that employees know what they need to achieve. With this in place, ‘where’ the work is completed becomes less important.

We are at the forefront of technology, with a work-from-anywhere ethos and connected Robustels in our backpacks. We embrace new technologies and help our channel partners to benefit from technology sunsetting and switch-offs.

I am not sure all companies are prioritising diversity and inclusion in their recruitment strategies but we do. We have reviewed our end-to-end process to eliminate unconscious bias and remove barriers.

Promoting company culture can attract like-minded individuals who share the same goals. A competitive package, attractive bonus schemes and the chance to grow and develop with a company are equally attractive.

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Topics: Business

Gigabit Britain what to expect

Posted by Adrian Sunderland on 20-Sep-2023 17:22:23

We can expect a huge amount of opportunity for the channel. Successful resellers are trusted by their customers, they are more than just suppliers they are advisors. For the SME business, they are perhaps faced with some uncertainty, such as what happens with my PSTN lines and the things connected to them.  The reseller that takes away the uncertainty is in the driving seat to help their customer benefit from the new connectivity as well as solve some of the more niche PSTN replacement problems that are being ignored by the large telcos.

Is the future of connectivity fixed-first, mobile-first, or something in between?

I think the future of connectivity is definitely something in between. There is no doubt that a business that is on-net with one of the fibre providers will want to take their primary connectivity that way.  For them, this connectivity will almost certainly be mission-critical. So, for fibre-connected customers, more and more we see a growing requirement for cellular (4G/5G) backup. Many of the fibre providers are including this as standard with their B2B offerings, providing seamless failover between fixed-line and mobile. 

Of course, not every business is on-net for fibre and so we’re seeing more and more sites where resellers are choosing a mobile broadband solution. According to Ofcom, 73% of homes could benefit from gigabit broadband at the end of last year compared to 82% that could get 5G.  I think that whilst both footprints will continue to grow, in all likelihood 5G will always be the technology used to fill the gaps or provide connectivity where the requirement is temporary (such as construction sites, festivals etc.) or mobile (such as public transport, marine etc.).

The average speed achieved by Three UK’s 5G customers was 275Mbit/s last quarter with the highest performance measured at 1.4Gbit/s!  So there isn’t necessarily a performance compromise to be made through the use of mobile vs. fixed like there was when 3G was the best service available.

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Topics: Business

Boardroom Diversity

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 02-Aug-2023 15:03:21

Deloitte says diversity takes various forms in a boardroom and can be broadly categorised into skills, expertise and experience. Having the optimal mix is paramount.

At Jola, we believe diverse boardrooms are often more successful because of the way they utilise the wide range of skills and experience at their disposal and the corporate culture they have cultivated. Diversity is part of our values and positively affects how we do business. It starts with an ingrained respect for others and a desire to work together to achieve a common goal. This influences how we innovate, our marketing style and the way we help partners to find and win lucrative deals.

Hiring people from diverse backgrounds can help to foster creativity and offer a range of perspectives and ideas. Employees are more likely to feel empowered to innovate in an environment where inclusivity is a priority.

Our focus at Jola is to find the best people, who share our values and train and support them so that they grow with us. Small things like changing our hours, flexible working, work experience programmes, graduate schemes, and apprenticeship programmes have all been successful for us. We coach people on how we communicate with each other, and we don’t tolerate discrimination of any kind. We are problem solvers, so if we find the right person and they face a challenge, we work with them to overcome it.

We don’t shout about it but we do have experienced channel professionals running our business who are generous with their time and have mentored, trained and inspired many of us in the channel. Watching and learning from others is the key in my view, which you can get from great people you work with, but also from networking both inside and outside of the channel. If we keep learning and inspiring and training others to come with us in our careers, removing barriers in our way, there is nothing stopping us. 

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Topics: Business

Jola turns 9

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 20-Apr-2023 18:06:21

Jola celebrates its 9th birthday in April 2023, after its best-ever financial performance and in a year when it became the channel arm of Wireless Logic.

Jola has increased its partner base to over 1300 and continued its relentless product development, with a string of new products designed to help Jola partners differentiate their offerings and win major deals from the mobile networks direct. The Mobile Data Revenue Generator™ has been successful in helping partners to identify and win new business, increasing Average Revenue per Customer and reducing churn.

The channel has always thrived on technological change and compelling events like the 2025 PSTN switch-off is significant. To help partners capitalise on this, Jola developed a PSTN Replacement Toolkit which offers partners everything they need to replace PSTN lines with 4G/5G solutions. Combined with their Device as a Service proposition Jola partners do not need to pay any upfront costs and benefit from hardware replacement and upgrade options.

Andrew Dickinson, CEO of Jola commented, “In 2022 we closed the books on our eighth full year and were acquired by Wireless Logic. We continue to grow and invest in people, products, platforms and processes. We have a talented team here at Jola who are dedicated to supporting our growing partner base. It is great to see so many Jola partners building profitable revenue streams from our unique mobile data solutions.”

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Topics: Business

Corporate Finance

Posted by Andrew Dickinson on 22-Nov-2022 17:57:12

 

Jola was setup such that we would be ready to transact at any time. We didn’t know the exact date and we didn’t want management distracted from growing the business. So;

  1. We operate a 3-year rolling financial plan, re-forecast quarterly for cash flow purposes. The first 12-months is the budget, which is fixed in April, followed by a 24-month outlook. There is a new draft 12+24 every January, finally signed off in March to start in April. In my experience operating only a 12-month budget and writing a business plan just when you need an IM is a mistake. We re-define and hone our strategy every year but this tends to be more about emphasis than direction. Our fundamental strategy has not changed since 2016 when we pivoted the company into mobile data. Our overall approach makes the production of an Information Memorandum much more straightforward.
  2. We are paperless. This is really important for Due Diligence. All our IP is documented, and we had all our contracts and service agreements completed and checked by lawyers in the first year. We resist non-standard agreements, even down to insisting on our own NDA. If we have to amend our terms it is recorded and done via an addendum, A buyer’s lawyer is going to have to read everything in DD and very often the seller pays for this, so by minimising exceptions we cut out a lot of time and cost. We opened our data room the day we started Jola with £50k in 2014.
  3. We made ourselves known to the market and started building relationships with PE very early. We focussed on specialist TMT Private Equity because they ‘get’ technology, won’t wince at the multiples and will help with origination of deal flow for a buy-and-build strategy. We talked to credible analysts like Megabuyte and were very open with them about our numbers and strategy. Some PE firms won’t do minority investments and some won’t do secondary-only so I found it saved time to be upfront about our intentions when approached by PE firms. Receiving offers from PE and growth funds is very affirming for both the strength/depth of management and the general and financial health and strategy of the business. However if you are immature in these respects but still want to raise money you could consider a syndicate (sometimes called deal-by-deal) arrangement. This only really works for a minority stake and you will still need an IM, but the due diligence, process is much lighter and shorter.
  4. They say good advice is cheap but there is some very expensive bad advice out there too. For TMT Corporate Finance advice and deal assistance there are only a few in the UK I would recommend. My last deal was 2012 so to bring myself up to date I asked people I trust and respect about their recent experiences. This was invaluable. Above all we made sure we had the best CFO we could afford. We only needed someone part time when we weren’t transacting and we found the best CFOs were often plural anyway. Supported by Pinsent Masons, our CFO and I did all the heavy lifting on all deals, shielding the management team as best we could. We short-listed corporate lawyers for their track record and it was a bonus if they had worked for some of the buyers on our shortlist and knew their redlines and ‘gives’ on the SPA. Three legal firms bid for the work.
  5. Most processes take around six months and we knew it was important not to lose focus and miss our numbers in that period. We didn’t want to make our investor nervous or give them a reason to try and chip us on the agreed price.
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Topics: Business

Measuring customer experience

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 09-Jun-2022 12:42:41

Recurring revenue businesses rely heavily on customer retention. It is tempting to focus all efforts on recruitment, but churning customers is a real concern for growing businesses.

Understanding and monitoring customer experience, can help to identify early warning signs, put in measures and reduce churn. By improving the customer experience, you can increase customer retention and revenue per customer, whilst also enhancing brand perceptions in the marketplace. By getting this process right, you create ‘fans’ of your business, ‘advocates’ who freely recommend your services to others and buy frequently from you.

In order to measure customer experience, you must first identify relevant KPIs. What are the measures in your business of customer satisfaction? Many companies use NPS (Net Promoter Score) which gives an overall satisfaction score. You ask the question: How likely are you to recommend us? You use an answer scale of one to ten. You may also want to ask more granular questions to understand satisfaction across each customer touch point.

Next think about what influences the satisfaction score. This can often be obtained through a comments box on your survey, or by calling a cross-section of clients to ask specific questions about their experience. Having the right products, at the right price, on the right management portals, is key, combined with excellent service and accurately and timely billing.

By surveying customers regularly and gathering feedback, you can identify any shortcomings and work with customers to improve them. Going the extra mile to fix a problem can save a churning customer, and when handled well, also turn them into an advocate.

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Topics: Business

Jola rewards staff with a generous EMI share scheme

Posted by Cherie Howlett on 10-Mar-2022 16:25:48

Ambitious channel companies are always looking to recruit, develop and retain talented employees to help them grow. Statistics show that highly engaged and rewarded staff are more productive. Satisfied employees tend to be more loyal to the company and deliver higher levels of customer service.

Jola certainly thinks so, as they recently rolled out a very generous EMI scheme which is planned to deliver six figure pay-outs to their most loyal and high-performing employees. Jola’s EMI scheme grants share options to every employee. Jola employees are allotted a number of shares that they can buy and at the next transaction Jola employees will benefit from the increase they have created in the value of the business.

Andrew Dickinson, CEO commented, “We ran a similar scheme at Griffin and it was very successful. Each member of the team has a part to play in the growth of the company. They all have individual KPIs which contribute to the success of the business. We hold monthly meetings so every member of the team can see where we are against the growth target we are all working to. We have some brilliant talent within the business and it is important to us to reward everyone who works in Jola.”

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Topics: Business

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